CEO: Astronomical growth at Phunware only getting faster

Jun 11, 2014
Austin Business Journal

Five years after launching Phunware Inc., CEO Alan Knitowski is now positioning the company for a huge growth curve and an initial public offering as he eyes a $1 billion enterprise


The featured speaker at the Austin Business Journal’s Face 2 Face event Tuesday at Whole Foods Markets Inc.'s headquarters, Knitowski said his tech company reached $22.1 million in revenue last year and plans to see that figure surge in coming years


The company was ranked No. 1 in the Austin Business Journal’s 2013 list of the fastest growing businesses with less than $10 million in annual revenue in Central Texas. It grew revenue from about $534,000 in 2010 to more than $8 million in 2012


“The goal we’ve always set for ourselves is double, double, double,” he said. “Part of it is that you have to have the mindset that it’s possible.”


Phunware, which launched in 2009, develops branded mobile applications and the infrastructure to enable companies to connect with end-user devices. It employs 230 workers


Knitowski, a self-described “experienced optimist,” said Phunware is his fourth technology startup. The previous three were all acquired by larger companies


Phunware has raised $48 million in investment capital and has spent about $10 million of that, Knitowski said, largely on four acquisitions. It’s also operating with a $100,000 monthly burn rate, meaning losing $1.2 million annually, he said


The loses are expected at this stage of the company, Knitowski said, adding that that company "accidentally" turned a profit at one point last year. Knitowski said Phunware has grown by selling customer what they need instead of what they want. It can be daunting, he said, to walk into a Fortune 500 company and tell the executives that while they asked for one thing, they really need another — they just didn't know it


Phunware has secured a lot of business thanks to referrals from tech giant Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL). Knitowski said his team was one of the first to develop tools for the iPad, the tablet computer Apple released in early 2010, and those tools pushed the device to its limit — which Apple executives want


Earlier this month, Phunware announced acquiring Miami-based Simplikate Systems LLC, an 18-employee company that will continue to operate from Miami to generate new business in Central America, South America and Latin America


In May, the company acquired Digby, a 120-person software developer operated by Austin-based 30 Second Software Inc., for an undisclosed amount


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